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LFF, arrives for American Express Gala Screening of 'The King's Speech' during the 54th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square on October 21, 2010 in London, England
Photograph: Jon Furniss

The BFI London Film Festival finds a surprising new home for 2021

It’s goodbye Odeon Leicester Square, hello Southbank

Written by
Phil de Semlyen
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Out with the old, in with the new. That’s the way of things at the ever-evolving BFI London Film Festival, which now has dates for your diary (October 6-17) and a major new venue to reveal.

This year, LFF is adding the Royal Festival Hall to BFI Southbank to create two neighbouring hubs for the festival. It also moves out of its traditional Odeon Luxe Leicester Square home, possibly because the new Bond movie, ‘No Time to Die’, is likely to be hogging West End screens at the time.

The Royal Festival Hall, usually a concert venue, will put on its glad rags to host red carpet galas. The BFI Southbank, meanwhile, will be the place to go for the meat of the fest’s programme. That’s where you’ll see the competition entries, best docs and first features.

‘We’re raring to get back to the large scale live festival in London,’ says BFI London Film Festival director Tricia Tuttle, ‘and what better way to do this than launch a new partnership with our legendary neighbours at the Southbank Centre, with the iconic and beautiful Royal Festival Hall becoming home to our galas.’

Last year’s pandemic-hit LFF was a hybrid affair with a stronger-than-normal showing for TV series, a new XR (extended reality) dimension, internationally available screen talks and Q&As, and a UK-wide audience tuning in via BFI Player. Expect all those innovations to return for 2021, with the likelihood of UK-wide cinema screenings of festival films too.

Despite many challenges and restrictions, last year allowed us to work in new ways with important cultural cinemas around the UK,’ adds Tuttle, ‘and also take festival films to audiences outside of London via BFI Player, so I am delighted to bring these elements into our model for this year.’

Check back for news on opening galas, the full line-up and news on ticket sales over the summer.

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